Sustained efforts of sons and daughters of Ogidi to bolster the development of their community, using tourism is setting the serene settlement in Ijumu Local Council Area of Kogi State apart as a shining light, in a state where communities suffer from immense infrastructural deficit.
The state has been lagging behind in terms of internally generated revenue, to the extent that it has been depending solely on monthly allocations from the Federal Government for its upkeep. But with the downturn that the country’s economy is experiencing, the revenues have kept dwindling so much so that the state is finding it difficult to discharge its obligations.
One of the avenues, where the state can explore to earn revenue, is the potential that tourism offers, with the Ogidi Day Cultural Fiesta, which is adjudged one of Nigeria’s biggest cultural events in the month of June as a potential vehicle.
Apart from facilitating an inter-cultural mix, it is believed that if its inherent benefits are properly articulated and harnessed, it could as well facilitate investment, which would ultimately bring about development.
A number of foreign nationals graced this year’s highly successful edition, which also went without any security issues, a development that is believed to have opened up the community and the state to possible foreign investors.
Over the while, Chief Executive Officer of Nike Arts Gallery, Lekki, Lagos, Mrs. Nike Okundaye, who happens to be the female Oba (paramount ruler) of Ogidi Land, has been untiring in her efforts to put the festival on the world tourism map.
This also accounts for the rising number of dignitaries that the festival has attracted in recent times, which include ambassadors, foreign nationals, top politicians, culture enthusiasts and sundry government officials.
In a nutshell, Okundaye’s contributions to the development of the fiesta and community, have facilitated the preservation, projection and the presentation of the culture of Ogidi people to the world.
Added to this, as the Ogidi Day celebration gains further grounds among cultural festivals in the country, its socio-economic relevance is also beginning to yield the desired results.
The week-long Ogidi-Ela Day Cultural/Yam Festival 2016 event commenced on Sunday, June, 12, 2016 and climaxed on Saturday June 18, 2016 with the grand finale, featuring diverse cultural performances, presentation of new yams, chieftaincy and award investitures, amongst others.
Even though the rocky, sleepy Ogidi community came alive during this fifth edition of the festival, the celebration also attracted national and global attention to the rich cultural heritage of Ogidi, and through that, draw attention to the parlous state of its infrastructure.
Faced with the Herculean task of bettering the fortunes of the state with available limited resources, the festival may have also succeeded in opening the state government’s eyes to the array of opportunities presented by tourism that could be harnessed for the good of the people of the state.
In attendance at this year’s event were the Ambassador of France to Nigeria, Denys Gauer, the Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of Belgium, Mrs. Paulette Gondry-Van Trier and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CIG Motors Nigeria Ltd, Mrs. Diana Chan, amongst others.
In her remarks, Trier praised the development spirit of those behind the festival and thanked the people for the chieftaincy title of “Yeye-Iyalode of Ogidi land” conferred on her over 10 years ago.
At the celebration, where Yeye Oba Nike Okundaye was “Mother of the Day,” Mrs. Chan, who was bestowed with the chieftaincy title of “Yeye Gbeluro of Ogidi,” expressed gratitude to the community for the honour done her and promised to be part of its development.
The CIG Motors boss made a donation of N2 million to the community, which she would want to be part of efforts to boost education and infrastructural needs of the community.
French envoy, Gauer, who expressed delight at the display of Nigeria’s rich culture by the Ogidi people, said he was particularly fascinated by the different cultural presentations by the groups.
“I was told it is the most important cultural festival in the month of June. I recently met Mrs. Okundaye in Lagos, and she told me you must be in Ogidi in the month of June. You cannot avoid that. And you know that she can be so convincing. And that is why I have come here today. I want to thank you for the warm welcome.
“I am excited by your cultural display here today. I am fascinated by the different groups of dancers, which tell the world that Ogidi is not only a town, but one which has a rich cultural heritage to show the world,” the French ambassador said.
Paramount ruler of the area, the Ogidi, Ologidi of Ogidi Land, Oba Rabiu Oladimeji Sule, who arrived the venue of the grand finale of the cultural fiesta flanked by his two wives, called on illustrious sons and daughters of the community to remain unrelenting in contributing their quota to the overall development of the area.
He prayed for peace, progress and development of Ogidi Land and called on investors to take advantage of the peace-loving nature of the people to invest in the area, promising that the community would help with the provision of land.
For his contributions to the growth of Ogidi, the immediate past National President of Ogidi Development Union (ODU), Mr. Tunde Ipinmisho, was presented with an award for his “selfless and meritorious services to the community service.”
Ipinmisho, a one time Editor of The Sunday Times, and Fellow, Nigerian Guild of Editors (FNGE), piloted the affairs of the union for nine years, during which he facilitated the development and progress to the community.
Responding to his award, Mr. Ipinmisho thanked the community for the honour, assuring them that he would be available to render more services to the community when called upon.
He commended Okundaye for being a great source of inspiration to the Ogidi community, adding that she has placed the community on the world map.
The Ogidi Community Ground, venue of the fiesta was resplendent in bright colours as the young and the old, all beautifully decked savoured the festivities.
Colorfully attired groups including traditional chiefs, titled women, farmers, hunters and the Elegbejegbe groups amongst others, took their turns to pay homage to the paramount ruler, Oba Sule.
Various cultural troupes from Edo, Ekiti, Osun and Lagos, put up great performances, which thrilled the highly excited gathering. The Nefretiti Cultural Troupe from Lagos, particularly held guests spellbound with their thrilling cultural displays and dances.
Other cultural troupes that performed were Iyamoye group, Nike group, Iya Epa Dancers and Ebira Group.
During the festivities, the health of the people was not discountenanced as a free medical outreach mounted by the Ripples Foundation took care of that. A novelty football match, Ju’aamat service, expedition to Oroke Oda Mountain and a bonfire were part of the mix.
Credits: John Akubo/Guardian